In the mid 1960’s, Civil Rights Activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was invited by the Chicago Freedom Movement to be a part of a campaign that fought against racial discrimination in urban settings, which negatively impacted living conditions for Black people residing in cities. Highlighting how poor housing was for Black people in the North, he moved his family to the West Side of Chicago in an effort to eliminate racial biases within the housing market. 60 years later, EverThrive Illinois is still working to eliminate these biases that are present within health care. Just like Dr. King, we strive to connect with, advocate for, and give a voice to those living in underserved communities in the city of Chicago and throughout Illinois. Tamela Milan-Alexander, our Community Engagement Director, shares her favorite quote from Dr. King:”In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Tamela says, “This is what this monumental man provided to think about how we show up and speak up for people, especially those who have not found their voice. We should always remember that many communities feel like they are in enemy territory with a lack of access to fresh foods, housing, and violence as we must be the allies.”
Martin Luther King Day honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also celebrated as a National Day of Service, encouraging people to volunteer and help out within their community. Our Policy and Advocacy Director, Kevie Lusby Smyre, says she will be participating in Martin Luther King Day of Service. “I have dedicated my life to public service, and although there are challenging and controversial times, I am often reminded that you can choose to fight or be silent and complicit. I chose to continue the fight of those before me and those who will come after me. I believe we can make this world a better place.”
There are many ways you can honor Dr. King’s legacy today and throughout the year. You can volunteer with an organization or just in your community. However, every effort to help someone in need goes a long way. You can drive or accompany someone to get their flu or COVID-19 vaccine, be there to support a birthing person in your community and spread the word about resources that can assist families, pregnant people, and those who need any assistance advocating for themselves in the health care space.
In addition, there are many opportunities to volunteer and be a part of service projects in Chicago on MLK Day that you can find online. EverThrive Illinois hopes that Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement inspires you to ignite change and create a better world for everyone in it.